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Denken oder Glauben? Learn to Use the Correct German Verb to Express " I Think"

written by: Gillian Hendrie • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 8/2/2012

Learn where to use "denken" and its 'partners' and where "glauben" or another verb is more appropriate to say, " I think ..." in German.

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    Opinions

    German speakers are generally much more confident than their English-language counterparts! Where we often say, "I think ......" as an introduction to giving an opinion, German language speakers quite often just state their opinion as fact.

    Der President ist besessen.

    Listeners understand that it is an opinion, and can give their own opinion in a similar manner - without causing offence for having corrected the "fact".

    Doch, er arbeitet nur ganz fleiβig

    Sometimes, however, using a verb such as denken or glauben gives a necessary nuance.

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    Think That ...

    With the basic meaning "to believe," glauben is the verb most often used for opinions.

    Ich glaube, du bist die schönste Frau der Stadt.

    Ich glaube, es ist schon zu spät.

    By itself, denken can be used to talk about an opinion that was held mistakenly or about which the speaker is not too sure:

    Ich dachte, nächste Woche kommt er nach Hause.

    Ich denke, wir gehen zu Fuβ.

    This verb is used in a sinilar way when the speaker has just made a decision but is not sure about it:

    Ich denke, ich fahre morgen nach Hause. (Perhaps he/she is hoping to be talked into staying another day!)

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    Think About ...

    To talk about pondering over a situation, use nachdenken über.

    Er bat um etwas Zeit, darüber nachzudenken.

    Wir müssen zuerst über die Konsequenzen nachdenken.

    If you are thinking of something in a more directed manner in the sense of "taking into account" or "considering," use denken an.

    Ich muβ daran denken, daβ die Mutter allmählich älter wird.

    Sie müssen an ihre Pflicht denken.

    To ask or give an opinion as an evaluation of a person, an idea, etc. use halten.

    Ich halte das für eine ausgezeichnete Idee.

    Was halten Sie von ihm?

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    Think Of ..

    In the sense of "imagine" use sich denken.

    Ich kann mir nicht denken, was das bedeutet.

    Denken Sie sich, er hat mich belogen!

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    Summary

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